The death of a loved one can be traumatic, disturbing, grief-laden and extended. Eventually, after the initial event is passed, a large number of administrative tasks are needed as well. One of those, where there is a property that needs to be liquidated, involves emptying out an old household of belongings and preparing it for sale. A family needs to be prepared to deal with deciding what to keep as well as what needs to be disposed of. We will discuss prepping an estate sale home in stages.
Emptying Involves Categorization and Planning
How to empty parent’s house after selling can be complicated if there’s no planning involved. Personal belongings typically fall into a handful of common categories that include:
- Must keep and hold onto (memorable or valuable)
- Keep but resell later
- Resell now to whoever will buy it
- Donate to charity for a tax deduction
The hard part is usually deciding what to let go of versus which categories make sense. So the trick is to go in stages.
First Stage: Remove Valuables
Going through every room and every storage container, after specific items already identified in an estate plan are removed or distributed, the remainder should be confirmed as being kept or leaving. Anything being kept should be removed at that time and no longer be delayed.
Second Stage: Find Items That Can Sell
The next wave involves identifying all items that have a practical and immediate ability to sell. Again, these should be removed and boxed or contained where they are ready to be liquidated. This isn’t a “wait and see what happens” phase; the items should have an identified liquidator already waiting for pricing and selling to.
Third Stage: Donate to Charity
With all the valuable items removed, now it’s time to determine what is still in good enough condition to go to charity as a donation. This shouldn’t be a hard process. If it’s functional, donate it. Let the charities decide what to keep. The work is mainly in the packing, as the charity will track and document items by container (bag, box, bundle, etc.).
Given the load involved, it may be smart to have a moving truck ready to take everything in one trip to a waiting charity already pre-arranged. Don’t assume any given charity will simply be ready to take whatever shows up on an unscheduled visit. They may reject the load simply due to not having or people to process the items.
Fourth Stage: Cleaning Out the Trash
The final stage captures everything left and brings it to a disposal yard or site. Similar to charity, this may involve the renting of a large trash bin for pickup or using a hauling truck for the same. Various services are available to provide this work as well.
Final: Cleaning and Prepping
With everything removed from the home, it’s time to do the cleaning. If the home is already sold, then it’s generally a matter of making sure everything has been removed and what the buyer purchased remains (fixtures, for example). If the home still needs to be sold, this is the time when the improvements can be made with repainting, flooring, and staging.
Emptying a loved one’s home is tough and can bring up a lot of emotions. However, if a family goes into the task with a plan and sticks to it with discipline, the process can move along quickly and efficiently, and the home can be readied for transfer in a timely manner.
Make sure as well that all the estate paperwork is already addressed before listing too, including probate clearance, having the title ready to transfer, and no liens exist on the property that could become nasty surprises during escrow.